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Ryan Newell, Independent League closer, could help the 2020 Rays

You know, if a season happens.

MLB: Spring Training-Arizona Diamondbacks at Chicago Cubs Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

It was a surprising move when the Rays traded their 20-save closer off a 96-win playoff team for outfield depth, but the front office was confident in the team’s bullpen, including the members not expected to make the Opening Day roster. That starts with the return of 2018 saves leader Jose Alvarado returning to baseball, and it extends well into the minor league side.

So deep is the Durham Shuttle roster that many names could surprise in 2020, it’s easy to miss a few names along the way, such as when the Rays added indy ball closer Ryan Newell to the organization last February.

The scouting report on what Newell offers has been delayed in reaching our eyes, but is worth your consideration, as it comes from his manager from the Sussex County Miners, courtesy of the local New Jersey Herald. As it turns out, his profile sounds an awful lot like Emilio Pagan’s!

“Ryan was a guy who was touching 99 miles an hour pretty consistently last year with a 90-plus mile an hour slider, that’s signable pretty much anywhere,” said Bobby Jones, Miners manager and director of baseball operations. “There’s not a lot that needs to go on to figure out if he can play.

″ ... As long as he can throw strikes and he can continue doing what he was doing while he was here, he’s going to be just fine.”

Reading of Newell’s bullpen renaissance is quite a surprise if you also pull up his player page on FanGraphs.

During six seasons in the Marlins system, Newell barely saw the mound after his first two years, succumbing to various elbow and finger injuries. He became a free agent and gave it a go as a Diamondbacks starter during spring training in 2019, but found his release in March, departing organized baseball to play for the Miners.

After his success in indy ball, Newell kept sharp by closing games in the Mexican winter league, a step that led him to a professional contract...

Newell’s dominance led to a contract with the Pericos de Puebla in the Mexican baseball league in January before the Rays worked out an agreement for his contract rights in February.

Newell’s journey to the Rays was partly driven by his presence on the Flatground App, which was built by the famous Pitching Ninja to help connect overlooked free agents with major league organizations.

The app succeeded in landing Newell for a contract. Whether he can help the big league side remains to be seen.